The Nissan Cube has been sold in Japan for the last 10 years, but is only now being launched in USA as a 2010 model. Sales kick off in early ‘09; about seven years after Toyota introduced the equally boxy Scion xB. Happily for Nissan--and maybe for you, too--this funky, frugal subcompact looks like just the thing to help Americans cope with $4 gas and other new economic miseries. A pure battery-power version is expected early next decade as part of Nissan’s new Green Program 2010. It was recently previewed by the Denki Cube concept (Denki means “electric” in Japanese).Like the xB, the 2010 Nissan Cube is a tall, square-cut, 4-door, five-passenger wagon based on a small mainstream front-wheel-drive hatchback (in this case Nissan’s March/Micra minicar, which has never been sold in the U.S.).
The Cube, however, actually predates (and allegedly inspired) the Scion’s original Toyota bB parent. The Cube coming stateside is somewhat smaller than the newly enlarged 2008 xB. It’s basically the redesigned 2002 Japan-market Cube with trim and equipment alterations to suit North American driving conditions and buyer tastes.In its early years, the Cube was a gotta-have ride for young Japanese fashionistas. Though no longer considered so trendy a decade on, it’s bound to seem like a way-cool novelty here in the States. But the 2010 Nissan Cube should appeal to anyone looking for good fuel thrift and a city-friendly package with surprising interior space. The home-market Cube offers two-row accommodations for six via a front bench seat and steering-column shift lever, but the U.S. version will probably have two front seats with a floor shift in between. There’s also a seven-passenger version, called the Cube3 or “Cubic,” with an extra 6.9 inches of wheelbase making room for a small 3rd-row seat and even more maximum load space. No word on whether that model is coming here too, but we won’t be surprised if it does. In fact, it might be the only one we get, as the wheelbase for the Denki Cube concept was stretched 9.4 inches from the regular model’s, though that was partly to accommodate the bulky batteries of its all-electric drive.However long it is, the U.S.-market 2010 Nissan Cube is generally expected to carry a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine instead of the 1.4-liter unit used overseas.